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The reasons which ought to lead all men to seek God — Intimations of Immortality by Dr. Jeff Mirus

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Intimations of Immortality

by Dr. Jeff Mirus

When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, my world was a Christian world, at least nominally. My earliest efforts at apologetics were all designed to explain the “oddities” of the Catholic Faith to Protestants, and to show why their version of certain Christian ideas was wrong while the Catholic version was right. Since then much has changed. Now we are just as likely to be starting from scratch with people who don’t accept any version of Christianity, or perhaps any serious version of God either.

So from time to time we may profit from reviewing some of the reasons people ought to be interested in God, and especially interested in seeking a revelation from God that can set us on the right path. While people are often brought to a serious examination of the existence of God and the truth of the Christian Faith through personal experiences—whether tragic or triumphant—there are also some intellectual starting points that can get us wondering about these things. I’ll briefly review four of them here.

Our Own Sense of Continuation

There are several indicators of the existence of an immaterial, intellective soul that is necessarily immortal, but the one that impacts us most is simply our own sense of identity and our continuation in that identity. There is no evidence that any other creature has such a sense, that any other bodily creature understands itself as a unique individual with an identity which “ought” to continue beyond the vicissitudes of this earthly life. And no other creature manifests anything like a religious sense.

It is otherwise with us. No matter what age we are, no matter how many changes and struggles we’ve lived through, no matter how many times our cells have died and been replaced in the constant cycle of growth and decay, we still think of ourselves as “ourselves”. I look out from a 62 year-old body feeling exactly like the same “me” who was once fifteen. I am astonished that I should be old, and that life should be drawing inexorably to its close. This is unfathomable; it is a contradiction of everything I instinctively feel about myself. I cannot imagine my own non-existence. I cannot imagine a time when I will be unable to reflect on myself, on who I am. So it is with every man and woman who has ever lived.

Ralph McInerny, in his memoir of his life at Notre Dame (see I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You) makes the telling statement that even after his beloved wife of 50 years died he went on each day feeling immortal. That captures what it means to be human very well. We expect to continue as ourselves, and this leads us inescapably to ponder whether we have a persistent spiritual identity capable of transcending our current bodily existence. This in turn opens our minds to a spiritual world, and to the possibility of a God who is the very ground of our being. As the expression goes, nature abhors a vacuum. If we instinctively expect continuation, yearn for continuation, and seek continuation, then this is reason enough to presume that we will continue, and to examine carefully the question of whether in fact what our instincts tell us is so, and how this can be.

Our Perception of the World

Another profitable line of thought which is very near to us arises from our normal reactions to the world around us. There are at least two questions concerning our experience of the world which strike most of us fairly forcefully in a rather philosophical way. The first is the question of where it all came from. Ultimately, the human mind is not satisfied with the idea that the universe is eternal (which is far harder to believe than that an eternal God created it, given that everything we know about the material world suggests that it is contingent). Nor are we satisfied with the idea that the universe “just happened”, a concept which makes no logical sense to anyone who can think his way out of a paper bag.

It is not even too much to say, I think, that the human mind tends to be unsatisfied with the notion that the world could have evolved randomly from some primordial chemicals without any teleology (or tendency toward an end) having been built into it from the beginning. On the one hand, pure atheistic evolutionism simply pushes the God question beneath a few more layers of cosmic dust. On the other, the imagination has to stretch farther to see the plausibility of atheistic evolutionary theory than it does to see the plausibility of an uncaused Cause. We don’t claim to be able to encompass the Cause in our minds; but logic drives us to assume Its existence. Thus the questions “Where did this come from?” and “How was it designed?” set both the human mind and the human heart to work.

The other obvious question is why, in such a highly ordered universe, so many things are out of sync. How is it that the law of the jungle rules the beasts, that natural disasters occur, that men mistreat each other, that we lack so much in equality, justice and peace? No sooner does our experience of reality enable us to see how things are supposed to work than it shows us the proverbial sticky wicket. It is almost as if something that began flawlessly has somehow been broken, but we don’t see how. In Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton explains that the doctrine of Original Sin fit his experience of reality perfectly, and Blessed John Henry Newman saw things exactly the same way. We anticipate in this Christian doctrine the answer to the question, but the question itself should at least prompt us to seek an answer.

Our Sense of Justice

In An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, Newman also offered a third line of thought, a highly developed argument based on the personal conscience (see Newman’s Final Argument). It is a universal experience, Newman rightly states, that we instinctively apprehend a difference between right and wrong; we also apprehend that we are under an obligation to do what is right, and we sense strongly that we will be subject to some sort of judgment on this score. Very few indeed are those who have never entertained such thoughts, or who manage to keep them at bay so continually as to forget them altogether.

At the same time, we cannot escape the observation that what is right is very frequently ignored, and that justice in this world is so imperfect as often to be laughable. Too often justice is a standard to which men are more likely to hold others than themselves, yet it remains a standard all the same, and people very typically look forward to a harmonious day when perfect justice will be achieved. Some, it is true, have sought this perfect justice through utopian schemes, and have ended by attempting (unjustly!) to effect it by force. But many, many more have thought it likely that the imbalances of this life would be redressed in another life. If we find ourselves with an outraged sense of justice then, and if nature really does abhor a vacuum, we must be made for a time and place when justice will be done.

Now a sense of right and wrong presumes some sort of law, which in turn presumes a lawgiver; and a judgment rather obviously demands a judge. This realization actually suggests two parallel lines of thought. First, it reinforces the idea that there must exist a God who somehow represents the Good and cares enough to punish those who violate it. Second, it leads us to a near-certainty that such a Judge would certainly wish to reveal Himself so that we should know clearly what He approves and what He abhors. In other words, the argument from conscience points directly at Revelation. It leads us naturally to inquire whether such a revelation has, in fact, been made.

The Christ

Though destined for universal acceptance, Christ entered the world at a particular time in history; His person, His preaching, and His works impress themselves upon the minds of men now at one time and now at another. It cannot be said that every human person, in his lifetime here on earth, will have heard about Jesus Christ. For many, indeed, He would be the end of a sincere search for revelation, if they could but know Him. But not all have known Him; not all, through ordinary human means at least, can know Him.

Nonetheless, a great many have now heard of Him, or have the opportunity of hearing of Him if they are in fact sincerely searching for God and His Revelation—as their consciences and personal reflections naturally lead them to do. For it is again a universal experience of the human mind (unless a man is in proud rebellion or has been carefully taught to the contrary) that one would expect to find a revelation from God precisely in that realm of activity which deals with God most directly, namely religion. And so one who has not already found this revelation ought to be spending some reasonable amount of time and energy in examing the different religions on offer throughout the world.

Now in thus canvassing the various religions, great and small, which vie for our allegiance, it becomes evident that very few claim to be based on a divine revelation, as opposed to the mere insights of their founders. And of those which claim a divine revelation, even fewer (exactly two, Judaism and Christianity) claim to be based on a revelation which was objectively validated by wonders that God alone could perform. Of these two, one claims to be the fulfillment of the other, and its founder is said to have risen from the dead—a claim as arresting as it is unique, and a claim also supported by a considerable historical testimony. My point is simply this: Someone who sincerely seeks answers, and who has heard the claims made on behalf of Jesus Christ, truly owes it to himself to take a closer look.

The Big Picture

The larger issue here is that too often atheists and agnostics dismiss believers by arguing that the claims of religion cannot be proven absolutely, such that on rational grounds doubt becomes impossible. That is true, but it puts the shoe on the wrong foot, as if the unbeliever has no call to look into the matter unless someone first convinces him of a particular religious position. To the contrary, any person who reflects on himself, on the world around him, on the moral order, and even on what he has heard of the claims of Christianity ought to be very serious about exploring and answering the God question. He certainly ought not to seek to ignore it, to isolate himself from its influence, or to heap scorn on those who do not give up so easily. Inquiring minds—which are the very best minds and the only responsible minds—really do want to know.

END OF POST

The New Evangelization — I Don’t Need Your Catechism!

…the necessity of teaching doctrine to children.

EDITOR: The much-needed New Evangelization of America as proposed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI will take courage and patience to implement. Mr. De La Torre and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are the example.

From the Catholic Exchange today:

Posted By Marlon De La Torre On July 22, 2010

I Don’t Need your Catechism!

A couple of years ago, a Pastor asked me to provide a catechetical training day for teachers in his Catholic school and CCD program. One of my first questions to him was what issues had developed requiring my assistance. The Pastor voiced to me his concern over poor doctrinal formation he suspected the children were receiving. I asked him how he finally came to this point. He said; “I knew things were off when all I saw was glue, crayons, construction paper and scissors during an eighth grade religion class.” Right there and then I realized what I had to work with.

The inevitable day arrives. As the catechists walked into the parish center, we began with prayer and introductions.  I typically begin with a short story reflecting on the catechetical formation for the day. This process helps to gauge the audience and determine when to run when they have had enough. Kidding aside, the first segment involved preparing them for the day, the aim of the instruction, purpose, goals, desires and application for the classroom. A good strategy when teaching teachers is not to patronize them. They are teachers and know everything. I know I am one of them. In reality, the heart of instruction here lies with an authentic witness of the living Gospel of Jesus Christ in a gradual loving way.

Knowing that many teachers resort to arts and crafts because of a genuine fear and ignorance in teaching the Catholic faith to students I began the training by asking the catechists for the one thing they would like to know about the faith they still had questions on. After a subtle pause (pretty typical) hands were drawn. The questions asked centered on sin, true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, confession, purgatory, mass participation, is the Church biblical, Mary, how to read the bible, other religions etc. My next question to them was why they wanted to know about these particular doctrines. Their response was nothing short of amazing.  They did not know how these particular teachings came to be! Keep in mind, these catechists are supposedly teaching children the Catholic faith. Right there and then I realized we needed to start at the very beginning e.g. Do you believe in God the Father the almighty?

If the teacher does not have a sound understanding of how their life reflects the Gospel let alone living within the Story of salvation, then how are they going to impart the story onto their students?  Hence, the focal point of the problem we face in the catechetical field. Our catechists lack basic doctrinal formation. I charted a different course of action realizing that this group needed a systematic engaging approach to learn and apply Catholic doctrine in the classroom.

The result was a mini-RCIA course where I went through Salvation History and presented to them their role in light of Jesus Christ the Divine Teacher (Heb 11:6). In other words, they needed to see how the Church came to be, their role within the Church and the graces given to us by Christ at Baptism to continue His work in the Church He founded. A basic outline of the curriculum for this training session looked something like this:

  1. Introduction to God’s plan for salvation in our lives.
  2. Creation and God’s love for us.
  3. Original Sin and the fall from grace because of the first sin.
  4. Proto-evangelium (First Gospel)
  5. God’s covenants with his people i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses
  6. The role of our Blessed Mother as the “New Eve.”
  7. Summary on Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture
  8. Summary on Apologetics
  9. Summary of the Seven Sacraments
  10. Summary of the Ten Commandments
  11. Summary of Mortal Sin and Venial Sin
  12. The Incarnation
  13. Liturgy and the Mass
  14. The Church
  15. Lives of the Saints
  16. The Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed.

It was important the catechists saw the biblical basis for these doctrinal pillars. In addition, how the Catechism references the teachings of the Church through the footnotes. A short primer on how to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church and view the references, cross-references, and articles numbers to find a particular teaching gave the catechists a better grasp of the information.

This experience is common. A generation of uncatechized faithful over the past thirty-years has drifted throughout their Catholic life not knowing the graces they received through their Baptism. The recitation of our Baptismal promises appears as an afterthought to many. When asked within the Rite of Baptism, Do you reject, sin, and all his empty works, and all his empty promises . . . it begs to ask the question to these teachers whether they truly understand what sin is in order to reject it.

When I posed this very question to one of the teachers in the training session, the response was a common one. Why do we need to concentrate on sin, it is more important to focus on the works of Jesus? Do you see where this particular catechist has quietly misaligned the purpose of Christ and His Church. Whether its ignorance, issues with the doctrine of sin, or a personal experience initiating this response, the opportunity to discuss the nature of sin was difficult. Now, we must be careful when discussing the doctrine of sin from this pastoral perspective; we do not know what the person has gone through personally where a certain sinful act may have caused negative, spiritual harm or drawn out a bad experience. It is vital that a catechist be carefully aware of the audience they are instructing. However, we cannot shy away from addressing the dangers of sin itself.

Another teacher, noting her frustration in sitting through a dreadful class in her opinion said these magic words:You can keep your catechism, how do you expect me to apply it in the classroom?” Moreover, there you go, this brave soul echoed the sentiments of others who had resisted on using the catechism in the classroom. This “shot heard around the classroom,” reflected the genuine mentality of many teachers viewing the catechism as a useless tool because it probably did not provide cutouts for the kids to “draw” and “cut-out.” This comment troubled me because of an apparent ignorance towards the application or appreciation of the Catechism. There is fruit to the argument that it is not the teachers fault. From one perspective, this may be true; nonetheless, it does not negate the fact of what we are dealing with now. St. Augustine-the Father of Catechetics describes catechizing the ignorant in this way:

“The best method for instructing ignorant men in Christian doctrine, one that will bear much fruit is to ask questions in a friendly fashion after the explanation; from this questioning one can learn whether each one understood what he heard or whether the explanation needs repeating. In order that the learner grasp the matter, we must ascertain by questioning whether the one being catechized has understood, and in accordance with his response, we must either explain more clearly and fully or not dwell further on what is known to them etc. But if a man is very slow, he must be mercifully helped and the most necessary doctrines especially should be briefly imparted to him.”

As the Catechist trainer in this situation, you cannot scold nor demean these individuals. In many ways, ignorance is rooted in their responses due to a lack of formation. Thus, a gentle but firm disposition serves us well in this type of situation because we do not want to lose them.  Our hope rests in a genuine conversion for these teachers (1 Pt 3:15). The “you can keep your catechism” statement by the teacher mentioned earlier should not detract anyone from teaching the faith. My call for this person was to help her find God. An opportunity arose to present the Gospel, reveal the importance of Christ in our lives and provide her with an open opportunity to seek Him.

It is very important that the catechist reveal the relevance of doctrine in the lives of the faithful. Our faith is naturally explicit (1 Thess 2:13) because God has made Himself visible through His Church. Man naturally seeks what is visible and revealed. For instance, when we are able to observe and recognize a moral act the exercise of the doctrinal action takes effect on our senses. We are able to witness doctrine exercised.  The liturgy – a public work, provides a visible reality of the existence of faith and the exercise of doctrine.

By the end of the day, the teachers who survived my training session realized in a small way the necessity of teaching doctrine to children. The success of the day came not by how much doctrine I could expose them to, it was helping them realize how little they knew about the faith and what to do about. Not only for their souls but also for the souls of the children they teach.

The religion instructor must be prepared to proclaim the truth of the Catholic Church. His/her responsibility is to aid the development of the person they are instructing by explaining Church teaching carefully and appropriately through a careful transmission rooted in Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The door to the nourishing a soul in Catholic doctrine must be convincing so the person applies these doctrines to everyday life. The need for the Catechism of the Catholic Church is more relevant than ever if we genuinely desire to impart the Catholic faith. Our duty and responsibility is to answer the questions our students have. Clarity of truth is primary in our instruction.


Marlon De La Torre is the Associate Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

 

R.I.P. Ron Provost

Love’s the greatest healer to be found…

To The Family and Friends of Ron Provost:

This past Sunday I offered my heart in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the soul of my friend of many years, Ronald Provost.

I will again this Sunday.

Since hearing of Ron’s death earlier this week I’ve found myself, even now, conflicted over his passing. If truth be told, my friendship with Ron occurred during a time when dissipation of life ruled both our days and our nights. Alcohol, drugs, false philosophies and lying political movements, all of which, could never set us free. No, underlying this dissipating cloud was our shared need–and at times–desperate search for, love and truth. Yes, this is what Ron and I shared in common during our time together on earth, the search for love and truth–the meaning of life.

For many years this search of ours always ended in terrible defeat. On too many occasions we found ourselves in the position of men full of sorrows and woe. Yet, thankfully, it was at those very times–when one or the other of us was most in need–that we were there for the other, even though neither of us possessed the cure to what ailed us. ..If it’s true that the human mind can only take so much, and it is, it’s true because of the absence of authentic love and truth within these frail human hearts of ours—something only God can provide in full, and does. It is just as St. Augustine states, “O’Lord our hearts are always restless until they rest in you.”

With his passing, my friend has flown on ahead of us all and met up with the heart of God’s love and truth in fullness—Jesus Christ. Little did we in our day discuss together this merciful God of Love who for our sake became the man of all sorrows for his creatures; and thus the only way, truth, and life capable of leading these thirsty souls of ours up and into the needed love, peace, joy, and rest that is the eternal beatific vision of God the Father in Heaven…

Ron knows well today the meaning of life: to come to know, love, and serve God in this life and be with him forever in the next… On this, I’m not conflicted. And so, may his soul ever increase in such blessedness as a true child of the Light. This is the prayer of my heart I’ll be offering up along with the Virgin Mother of God, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters this coming Sunday…

Rest in peace Ron Provost.

I send herein the love of our family and continued prayers on behalf of the entire Provost family, relatives, and friends.

A closing song for my friend I think he’d enjoy; followed by the Sacred Scripture readings of the day, on this his memorial…

 

Reading I

Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

King Nebuchadnezzar said:

“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

that you will not serve my god,

or worship the golden statue that I set up?

Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,

whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,

flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,

and all the other musical instruments;

otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;

and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,

“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you

in this matter.

If our God, whom we serve,

can save us from the white-hot furnace

and from your hands, O king, may he save us!

But even if he will not, know, O king,

that we will not serve your god

or worship the golden statue that you set up.”

King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage

against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual

and had some of the strongest men in his army

bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,

“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”

“Assuredly, O king,” they answered.

“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt,

walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”

Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,

“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;

they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies

rather than serve or worship any god

except their own God.”

Responsorial Psalm

Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;

And blessed is your holy and glorious name,

praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”

R. Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

R. Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”

R. Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you who look into the depths

from your throne upon the cherubim;

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”

R. Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,

praiseworthy and glorious forever.”

R. Glory and praise for ever!

Gospel

Jn 8:31-42

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham

and have never been enslaved to anyone.

How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,

everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.

A slave does not remain in a household forever,

but a son always remains.

So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.

I know that you are descendants of Abraham.

But you are trying to kill me,

because my word has no room among you.

I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;

then do what you have heard from the Father.”

They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,

you would be doing the works of Abraham.

But now you are trying to kill me,

a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;

Abraham did not do this.

You are doing the works of your father!”

So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.

We have one Father, God.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,

for I came from God and am here;

I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

END OF POST

YouTube – Pope Benedict XVI: The love of neighbour cannot be delegated

“There is no just ordering of the state that eliminates the service of charity. Whoever wants to eliminate charity is preparing to eliminate man…”

Pope Benedict XVI

END OF POST

A Spring of Grace in the Desert: Novena To Merciful Love

FIRST DAY

Introductory Prayer
My Jesus, I am deeply sorry when I consider the many times I have offended you.
However, with a Father’s heart you have not only forgiven me but with the words “Ask, and you shall receive” you invite me to seek from you whatever I need.
With complete confidence I appeal to your Merciful Love to give me what I request in this novena. Above all, I ask for the grace to change my behaviour, from now on to prove my faith by me deeds, to live according to your precepts and to be aflame with the fire of your charity,

Meditation “Our Father”
“Our”: while God has only one natural Son, in his infinite charity he wishes to have many adopted children with whom he shares his riches; and by having the same Father we are all brothers and sisters, and so should love each other.
“Father”: is the title which is fitting for God, because we owe him whatever we have in the order of nature and in the supernatural order of grace. This makes us his adopted children. He wants us to call him Father, so that we may love, obey and honour him as children, and to revive in us the love and confidence to obtain what we ask.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, be to me a Father, protector and guide in my pilgrimage, so that nothing may distract or mislead me on the road which leads to you. And you, my Mother, who looked after Jesus with such gentleness and care, educate and help me to fulfil my duty, and lead me along the paths of the commandments. Say to Jesus: “Receive this child; I recommend him/her to you with all the insistence of my maternal heart”.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

SECOND DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Who art in heaven”

While God is everywhere as Lord of heaven and earth, we say “who art in heaven” because the though of heaven moves us to love him with more veneration and to aspire to the things of heaven while living as pilgrims in this life.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, I know that you raise the fallen, free those in prison, reject nobody who is afflicted and look with love on all who are in need. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me, because I need to talk to you about the salvation of my soul and to receive your salutary advice.
My sins frighten me, my Jesus; I am ashamed of my ingratitude and distrust. I am greatly worried because instead of using the time you gave me to do good, I spent it badly, even by offending you.
I turn to you, Lord. You have the words of eternal life.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

THIRD DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Hallowed by thy Name”

This is the first thing that we should desire; the first thing that we should seek in prayer, the intention that should inspire all our works and actions: that God be known, loved served and adored, and that every creature should submit to his power.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, open to me the doors of your mercy; imprint on me the seal of your wisdom. Ensure that I am free from every unlawful affection and that I serve you with love, joy and sincerity.
Comforted by your divine word and commandments, may I always grow in virtue.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

FOURTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Thy kingdom come”

In this petition we ask that the kingdom of his grace and heavenly favours would come in us, that is the kingdom of the just, and the kingdom of glory where he rules in perfect communion with the blessed.
Therefore we also ask for an end to kingdom of sin, of the devil and of darkness.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
Lord, have mercy on me and mould me in the likeness of your heart.
My God, have mercy on me and free me from all that prevents me from reaching you.
Ensure that at the hour of death I shall not hear a dreadful sentence but your salutary words: ” Come, you blessed of my Father”, and my soul shall rejoice to see your face.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

FIFTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

Here we ask that God’s will be done by all creatures with fortitude and perseverance, purity and perfection. We ask that we ourselves may achieve this by whatever means and in whatever way we come to know it.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, give me a lively faith; make me observe faithfully your divine commandments and to travel the way of your precepts with a heart full of your love and charity.
Let me taste the sweetness of your spirit, and have a hunger for the fulfilment of your divine will, so that my poor service may be acceptable and pleasing to you.
My Jesus, may the omnipotence of the Father bless me. May your wisdom bless me. May the most kind Charity of the Holy Spirit bless me and protect me for eternal life.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

SIXTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Give us this day our daily bread”

Here we ask for the Bread which is the Blessed Sacrament; and also the ordinary nourishment of our soul which is grace, the Sacraments and heavenly inspirations.
We also ask that the nourishment necessary for our bodies be given to us in moderation.
We call the Eucharistic Bread “ours” since it was instituted because of our need and because our Redeemer gives himself to us in Communion.
We say “daily” to express our ordinary dependence on God for everything, body and soul, every hour and every moment.
In saying “give us this day” we make an act of charity, asking on behalf of everyone, without worrying about the future .

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, you are the Fountain of Life. Let me drink the living water which flows from you, so that, having tasted you, I may thirst only for you. Immerse me completely in the abyss of your love and mercy, and renew me with your Precious Blood with which you have redeemed me.
With water from your sacred site wash away all the stains with I have soiled the beautiful robe of innocence which you gave me in Baptism.
My Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me pure in body and soul.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

SEVENTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

We ask God to forgive our debts, that is, our sins and the punishment deserved because of them; an enormous penalty which we could never pay except through the Blood of Jesus, through the talents of grace and nature which we received from God, and with everything we are and have.
In this petition we undertake to forgive others their debts to us, without taking revenge on them, but rather forgetting the injuries and offences which they have caused us.
Thus God places in our hands the judgement he will give us, if we pardon, he will pardon us; if we do not pardon, he will not pardon us.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, I know that you call everyone without exception. You dwell in the humble, you love the person who loves you, you champion the cause of the poor, you show mercy to all and despise nothing your power has created. You conceal people’s defects, await their repentance, and receive the sinner with love and mercy. Lord, open also to me the spring of life; pardon me and wipe away everything in me which is contrary to your divine love.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

EIGHTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Lead us not into temptation”

In asking the Lord not to let us fall into temptation, we know that he permits temptation for our good, our weakness to overcome it, divine fortitude for our victory. We know that the Lord does not refuse his grace to the person who does what is necessary to overcome our powerful enemies.
When we ask him not to let us fall into temptation, we ask not to contract more debts than those we have already incurred.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, be the comfort and protection of my soul; be my defence against every temptation and cover me with the shield of your truth. Be my compassion and my hope, my defence and my refuge against all dangers to soul and body.
Lead me in the vast ocean of this world, and deign to console me in this trial.
May the abyss of your love and mercy be a safe haven for me. Thus I can be free from the snares of the devil.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

NINTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“but deliver us from evil. Amen”

We ask God to deliver us from all evil, that is, from evils of the soul and of the body, from eternal and temporal evils; from evils past, present and future, from sins, vices, disordered passions, evil inclinations and the spirit of anger and pride.
By saying “Amen” we ask with intensity, love and confidence, because God wishes and commands us to ask in this way.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, wash me with the Blood from your divine side, and let me return without stain to the life of your grace.
Lord, sustain my weak spirit and console my worried heart. Tell me that, because of your mercy, you will not cease to love me for a single moment, and that you will always be with me.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

Support Project Aurora in Oregon

The world needs healers, and Project Aurora needs you! 

success.jpgProject Aurora creates and sustains dignity based youth and family services throughout Oregon. They act to offer our youth all the tools and life strategies necessary in order that they may be well equiped in first understanding, and then, living authentic sexuality.

On the other end of the spectrum, Project Aurora also provides abortion healing and recovery services via annually scheduled Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats in Portland, Salem, and Medford.

rachelsvineyard.jpgI encourage you to join me in supporting the good works of these healer’s below through your financial contribution. For an in-depth illustration of this organization’s work in our communities and to donate click here

Thanks for your consideration…jme

Lori Eckstine, the director of Rachel’s Vineyard retreats is a native Oregonian. Seeking to serve her community and state she was a co-founder in 2001 of the Rachel’s Vineyard retreats offered in the Southwestern part of the state. Lori has been facilitating the retreats for 5 years. Under her co-leadership a parent non profit organization called Project Aurora was formed to include Rachel’s Vineyard retreats.

Her background includes marriage in 1972 to her husband Jerry. They are the parents of five grown children. For 4 years Lori was the right to life chairperson for her community. She volunteered for 1st Way, a pregnancy support center for 4 years. Having experienced an abortion herself when she was age 16, participating in a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in 2000 for her own healing was the pivotal episode in bringing her to become involved in offering the retreats in Oregon. She has helped retreat teams in other states with her skills.

Lori has spoken about abortion healing to many groups in Oregon and other states and to numerous churches all over Oregon.

2001 – Wyoming Council of Catholic Women state convention
2002 – Oregon Catholic Daughter’s convention
2003 – Baker Diocese Pro-life Conference
2004 – Catholic Daughters of St. Henry’s parish in Gresham
2005 – Eugene Right to Life Rally
2005 – panel speaker at Rachel’s Vineyard national conference
2006 – Baker Diocese Pro-life Conference

Jeanine Mudd is a registered Nurse with years of experience as a volunteer for 1st Way, a Nationally Certified Abstinence Educator, an affiliate of National Abstinence Clearinghouse. Jeanine dedicates her efforts to save the unborn and to give her voice to the movement that speaks for innocent lives.

Jeanine Mudd has a powerful message to convey to those who hold her views and need more solid information to defend their beliefs as well as to those who have opposing beliefs and misconceptions. Bringing to presentations compelling and accurate information, Jeanine has informed and strengthened the hearts of many as well as transformed the hearts of some. There are those who have rejected her message and information yet have respected her presentations. She is not what the other side expects.

Jeanine is uniquely qualified to present information, promote discussions, and lead group exercises on the issues of Pro-Life and Chastity. As a practicing nurse since 1987, she worked in diverse and demanding health care areas including patients with chronic illnesses, AIDS, and those undergoing Chemotherapy, as well as an OB/GYN and Labor and Delivery nurse. These experiences gave Jeanine a valuable perspective on life and the consequences of life-style choices.

From 1996 to 2002, Jeanine volunteered at 1st Way, a crisis pregnancy – medical center, served as a 1st Way Board Member, Media Spokesperson, Events Coordinator, high School and Youth Group Guest Speaker. Given the depth and breadth of the personal and professional life Jeanine Mudd has lived (she is also a wife and mother of two small children) she brings a tremendous amount of first account experiences as well as factual information to both captivate and convince her listeners. Jeanine knows that the truth about the gift of human life and the gift of sexuality in marriage will enlighten her listeners and will bring about successful life-style choices, beliefs, and behaviors. Her message is upbeat and motivational. Her faith enables Jeanine to stand up and speak on the behalf of the unborn, the born, and for the choice of chastity.

Nursing Experience

  • Operating Room Nurse
  • Chronic Health disorders – Sickle Cell Anemia, Diabetes, Heart and Kidney Disease.
  • Chemotherapy patient care – caring for those terminally ill – their family, and present at time of death
  • AIDS patient care
  • OB/GYN Nurse – worked for the only OB doctor in a 200 mile radius in a county with a high teen pregnancy rate.
  • Labor and Delivery and Maternal Special Care Nurse
  • New Born Nursery and Intermediate Care Nursery

Pro-Life Organization Volunteer

  • Crisis Pregnancy Counselor – 1996
  • 1st Way Board member 1997-2001
  • Media Spokesperson – Radio and television interviews in which Jeanine represented the organization as well as the Pro-Life platform
  • Guest Speaker – State and National Conferences, High Schools, Middle Schools, Church Youth Groups, University of Oregon.
  • Developed policies and procedures
  • Coordinator of city wide events in Eugene
  • Nationally Certified Abstinence Educator

Project Aurora – A multi-faceted approach to educating and guiding on healthy human sexuality from a Natural Law foundation, as well as offering the option of Catholic moral teaching about human sexuality.

Message For Lent: Pope Benedict XVI

1. Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk 16,13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. This is the aim of the special collections in favor of the poor, which are promoted during Lent in many parts of the world. In this way, inward cleansing is accompanied by a gesture of ecclesial communion, mirroring what already took place in the early Church. In his Letters, Saint Paul speaks of this in regard to the collection for the Jerusalem community (cf. 2 Cor 8-9; Rm 15, 25-27).

2. According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbor. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, material goods bear a social value, according to the principle of their universal destination (cf. n. 2404)

In the Gospel, Jesus explicitly admonishes the one who possesses and uses earthly riches only for self. In the face of the multitudes, who, lacking everything, suffer hunger, the words of Saint John acquire the tone of a ringing rebuke: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” (1 Jn 3,17). In those countries whose population is majority Christian, the call to share is even more urgent, since their responsibility toward the many who suffer poverty and abandonment is even greater. To come to their aid is a duty of justice even prior to being an act of charity.

3. The Gospel highlights a typical feature of Christian almsgiving: it must be hidden: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” Jesus asserts, “so that your alms may be done in secret” (Mt 6,3-4). Just a short while before, He said not to boast of one’s own good works so as not to risk being deprived of the heavenly reward (cf. Mt 6,1-2). The disciple is to be concerned with God’s greater glory. Jesus warns: “In this way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5,16). Everything, then, must be done for God’s glory and not our own. This understanding, dear brothers and sisters, must accompany every gesture of help to our neighbor, avoiding that it becomes a means to make ourselves the center of attention. If, in accomplishing a good deed, we do not have as our goal God’s glory and the real well being of our brothers and sisters, looking rather for a return of personal interest or simply of applause, we place ourselves outside of the Gospel vision. In today’s world of images, attentive vigilance is required, since this temptation is great. Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy: rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbor, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who, dying on the cross, gave His entire self for us. How could we not thank God for the many people who silently, far from the gaze of the media world, fulfill, with this spirit, generous actions in support of one’s neighbor in difficulty? There is little use in giving one’s personal goods to others if it leads to a heart puffed up in vainglory: for this reason, the one, who knows that God “sees in secret” and in secret will reward, does not seek human recognition for works of mercy.

4. In inviting us to consider almsgiving with a more profound gaze that transcends the purely material dimension, Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving (cf. Acts 20,35). When we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being; indeed, we have been created not for ourselves but for God and our brothers and sisters (cf. 2 Cor 5,15). Every time when, for love of God, we share our goods with our neighbor in need, we discover that the fullness of life comes from love and all is returned to us as a blessing in the form of peace, inner satisfaction and joy. Our Father in heaven rewards our almsgiving with His joy. What is more: Saint Peter includes among the spiritual fruits of almsgiving the forgiveness of sins: “Charity,” he writes, “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4,8). As the Lenten liturgy frequently repeats, God offers to us sinners the possibility of being forgiven. The fact of sharing with the poor what we possess disposes us to receive such a gift. In this moment, my thought turns to those who realize the weight of the evil they have committed and, precisely for this reason, feel far from God, fearful and almost incapable of turning to Him. By drawing close to others through almsgiving, we draw close to God; it can become an instrument for authentic conversion and reconciliation with Him and our brothers.

5. Almsgiving teaches us the generosity of love. Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo forthrightly recommends: “Never keep an account of the coins you give, since this is what I always say: if, in giving alms, the left hand is not to know what the right hand is doing, then the right hand, too, should not know what it does itself” (Detti e pensieri, Edilibri, n. 201). In this regard, all the more significant is the Gospel story of the widow who, out of her poverty, cast into the Temple treasury “all she had to live on” (Mk 12,44). Her tiny and insignificant coin becomes an eloquent symbol: this widow gives to God not out of her abundance, not so much what she has, but what she is. Her entire self.

We find this moving passage inserted in the description of the days that immediately precede Jesus’ passion and death, who, as Saint Paul writes, made Himself poor to enrich us out of His poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8,9); He gave His entire self for us. Lent, also through the practice of almsgiving, inspires us to follow His example. In His school, we can learn to make of our lives a total gift; imitating Him, we are able to make ourselves available, not so much in giving a part of what we possess, but our very selves. Cannot the entire Gospel be summarized perhaps in the one commandment of love? The Lenten practice of almsgiving thus becomes a means to deepen our Christian vocation. In gratuitously offering himself, the Christian bears witness that it is love and not material richness that determines the laws of his existence. Love, then, gives almsgiving its value; it inspires various forms of giving, according to the possibilities and conditions of each person.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, Lent invites us to “train ourselves” spiritually, also through the practice of almsgiving, in order to grow in charity and recognize in the poor Christ Himself. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that the Apostle Peter said to the cripple who was begging alms at the Temple gate: “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk” (Acts 3,6). In giving alms, we offer something material, a sign of the greater gift that we can impart to others through the announcement and witness of Christ, in whose name is found true life. Let this time, then, be marked by a personal and community effort of attachment to Christ in order that we may be witnesses of His love. May Mary, Mother and faithful Servant of the Lord, help believers to enter the “spiritual battle” of Lent, armed with prayer, fasting and the practice of almsgiving, so as to arrive at the celebration of the Easter Feasts, renewed in spirit. With these wishes, I willingly impart to all my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 30 October 2007

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2007 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana